By: Joel Collins
The 2015 Season season ended in a heart-breaking fashion for the Texas Rangers. They will be looking to repeat as the AL West division champs though come Opening Day on Monday. Yes folks it’s that wondrous time of year again. When everything is new again and there is the smell of fresh cut grass and smoke from barbecues in the air. Every team has high hopes and believe this is their year…well most of them anyway. Let’s take a look once again at what the Rangers were able to do in 2015 and we’ll see just what the Rangers have done to continue winning here in 2016.
Recap: 2015 Record 88-74 | AL West Champs
After losing their Ace in Yu Darvish to Tommy John surgery during Spring Training and opening the 2015 season with a 8-16 record 1st year manager Jeff Bannister wouldn’t let his team quit. Even when the news got bleaker when another Starting Pitcher in Derek Holland was injured and would be sidelined for 2 months this team began to fight and believe with their “Never Ever Quit” mantra.
As the trade deadline approached GM John Daniels made a trade to the Phillies for the 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels and hard throwing left handed reliever Jake Diekman. Texas sent lefty starter Matt Harrison and 5 prospects in return to Philadelphia. With the highly regarded Catching prospect Jorge Alfaro included. In a last minute deal before the deadline struck Texas added another hard throwing reliever in the Marlins Sam Dyson for catcher Tomas Telis and lefty Cody Ege. With a record under .500 as late as August 3rd Texas went off the last month and a half of the season to hold off the Astros and Angels to win the AL West on the last day of the season.
Texas scratched and clawed to take 2-0 lead against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALDS but the Jays came roaring back to tie the series at 2-2. Game 5 will leave quite a bad taste in Rangers fans mouths for a long time to come as things fell apart for the Rangers after an unruly Toronto crowd actually stopped play with their antics of throwing stuff at players on the field. When play resumed Jose Bautista hit a mammoth shot to put the Jays ahead for good. Still not bad for a team nobody believed would make the postseason. First year manager Jeff Bannister would go on to win the American League Manager of the Year award for his efforts in 2015 as well.
2016 Outlook: For the first time in quite a while this team is healthy. Yu Darvish and Josh Hamilton are expected back by May. Anything less than another October birth would be a huge let down for this club as many have them in the tops of the power rankings. Texas expects to be playing for a their first World Series Championship this year…no doubt about it. With most of their heavy lifting done by the deadline Texas was poised to find the right deals in the offseason. They traded centerfielder Leonys Martin to the Mariners for the hard throwing Tom Wilhelmsen and signed Tony Barnette to 2 year deal after he became a star closer for Yakult Swallows in the Japan Central League. The bullpen looks to be strength as they have 6 guys with closer abilities. They landed shortstop Ian Desmond to shore up the left field position and if spring training gives you any indication he should be just fine in the outfield. They traded for former TCU catcher Bryan Holaday to pair with Robinson Chirinos behind the plate and are currently still trying to add another starting pitcher to hold the 5th spot in the rotation. If they can’t find the right deal they will look to AJ Griffin to man the back end of the rotation.
Key Additions: Ian Desmond OF/Utility Inf, Tom Wilhemsen Relief, Tony Barnette Relief, Bryan Holaday C, AJ Griffin SP
Key Losses: Yovanni Gallardo SP, Leonys Martin CF, Mike Napoli 1B/DH
Projected Starting Lineup & Batting Order:
- Delino (Dewheels) Deshields
- Shin-Soo Choo
- Prince Fielder
- Adrian (Don’t touch my head) Beltre
- Mitch Moreland
- Ian Desmond/Josh Hamilton
- Elvis Andrus
- Rougned (Stinky) Odor
- Robinson Chirinos/Bryan Holaday
- Cole Hamels
- Colby Lewis
- Derek Holland
- Martin Perez
- AJ Griffin
Closer: Shawn Tolleson
My 2016 Texas Rangers Prediction:
93-69 | Texas repeats as AL West Champs